The best thing that can happen to Turkey in 2016

The best thing that can happen to Turkey in 2016

What will be the best thing that can happen to Turkey in 2016?

If I were to ask this question to diehard opponents of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), a serious number among them would wish for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to go away. That he disappears somehow from Turkey’s agenda.

That should not come as a surprise.  I don’t think President Erdoğan would be offended about it. This polarization has been recognized even by high level AKP officials too, like former deputy prime minister Bülent Arınç. It is a polarization that has been fuelled by Erdoğan himself.

I even believe that deep down he is grateful to those who do not like him, since they do him a great service. He uses them to consolidate his own electorate. 

Not that I am fond of President Erdoğan. But the best wish for Turkey should not be based on a leader or a government that has secured the support of at least 50 percent of the electorate to somehow go away. Erdoğan may go; another one with authoritarian tendencies might replace him. 

As a friend of mine repeats very often, Turkey’s problem is one of government; Turkey has an “opposition” problem.

After the decade-long rule of the AKP, the nation decided to put the opposition to task at the June 7 elections. Though the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) did not see major increases in their votes, they were provided by the opportunity to take part in the government, as the AKP came short of securing a majority in the parliament. The 13 percent vote for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), on the other hand, was a real victory. 

On Nov. 1, the electorate decided to take back what it gave to the opposition. “I was already very skeptical of your abilities. But I just wanted to give you a chance. You ruined it,” the voters said.

Last May, elections in Great Britain ended with a landslide victory for the Conservatives, who won an overall majority, confounding all opinion poll predictions. Labour Party’s Ed Miliband, the Liberal Democrats’ Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party all announced their resignations the next morning. All three resignations came in the course of two hours. 

It has been three months since the elections. The leaders of Turkey’s opposition parties did not resign and in fact some, namely MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, who has seen a real drop in his party’s votes, has defied any challenge to his rule.

Democracy needs to come first to opposition parties

Indeed, there are and there will be some activity within all three parties to challenge the leadership. Will they succeed? 

As the prospects for success do not look good, I talk about new opposition leaders in Turkey as a wish for 2016. 

Indeed, the AKP is here to stay. It is a legitimate government. Unfortunately, some of the steps that were taken under their rule weakened Turkey’s democracy instead of consolidating it. The best way to secure fully functioning democracy passes from a democratically functioning opposition.

Turkey’s opposition parties need to acquire a democratic culture themselves before taking up a campaign against democratic backsliding at the government level.